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A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

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Alek

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A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostThu Feb 05, 2015 11:38 am

Hello friends!

I've written a general guide I especially for other Filipinos (or people living in the Philippines) interested in getting in to collecting BJDs. Although I am in no way an expert on them and am still ‘new-ish’ to the hobby, I thought I could share what I know and hopefully be able to help someone out in the process.

If you spot any error or want to make corrections, please feel free to let me know and hopefully, I haven’t gotten anything horrendously wrong.

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This post will cover:
  • Choosing a BJD
  • Buying a BJD
  • Shipping a BJD
As well as as many little notes and tips I can cram in.

If you like this tutorial and want to reblog it to your Tumblr, you can find it a tumblr version here!
Last edited by Alek on Fri Feb 06, 2015 2:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Local Newbie's Guide to getting your first BJD

PostThu Feb 05, 2015 11:39 am

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For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume you are interested in buying a BJD and not a DollfieDream. A Dollfie Dream, although sharing similarities to BJDs, are made out of Vinyl and have an internal skeleton rather than being strung and having ball joints.

And while ManikaManila is also home to DD owners, buying a DD is different than buying a BJD, and it would be best to ask DD owners of their experiences instead. You can find the Philippine DD group on Facebook too!

PRICE

I felt the need to start with this because I feel like this is something that is a big deal to most people, here especially.

While we are a third world country, and most things in our day-to-day life have the prices adjusted accordingly, the same is not true of BJDs. BJDs are artisan, collectible items that are most commonly from Japan, Korea or China. Due to both the artistic process that goes behind making them, as well as the cost of production, they are far more expensive than your average toy and have fixed prices.

Be prepared to shell out anywhere from Php5,000 to Php50,000 for a single doll. Generally, smaller dolls are cheaper than their larger counterparts, but other factors will have to still be taken into consideration like brand, popularity and availability of the sculpt.

Also take into consideration that clothes and other apparel cost as much or more than human clothes do, as well as the fact that a lot of things you buy for them will have to be imported from other countries.

Because this is such a niche hobby that just about revolves around artists and being creative, It’s important to understand why you are paying for items at artisan prices.

There are, however, some small tips I can give that might save you some money when buying:
  • Wait for Holidays as most companies offer discounts around this time
  • While not universally true, Chinese companies tend to be cheaper because of their lower cost of production & cost of labour
  • You can save on shipping and sometimes get better discounts when you join group orders. ManikaManila offers a sub-forum dedicated to people hosting group orders and you’re always free to start one of your own.

And there are several lists compiled by other hobbyists of more budget friendly dolls, such as:

SIZES

BJDs come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common size groups are 1/3rd (also called SD), 1/4th (also called MSD) & 1/6th (also called YoSD). These are not strict groupings and there are many dolls that are ‘in-between’ sizes and even bigger or smaller than these.

1/3rd
  • Ranges from 56-72cm tall (although some people will class 68cm and above as a different category altogether)
  • Probably has the most variety and is the most common size
  • Described as the easiest to find clothes and props for
  • Price range is USD400 and up

1/4th
  • Ranges from 36-52cm (though average size is closer to 40-44cm)
  • Further classified as either Regular or Slim
  • Sculpts can either look youthful or more mature
  • Price range is around USD200-400

1/6th
  • Ranges from 20-30cm
  • Almost exclusively child-like sculpts
  • Described as the easiest to transport (because dolls that are smaller than 1/6th are said to be easier to lose)
  • Price range is around USD100-200

If you need help visualizing sizes, you can look for height comparisons on sites like This site (mind that it relies on user submissions and might not have what you’re looking for), the Den of Angels forums, or Flickr.

COLOUR

Because of the additional difficulties in the production of coloured resin, at the very least, companies provide just 1-3 basic colours. You will often see skin colours listed as names like ‘normal yellow’, ‘normal pink’, and ‘white’.

Because different companies have different colour mixtures, they might not be an exact match even if they share the same colour name. Take for example, my AprilStory and Modoll dolls are both sold as ‘Normal’, but are not an exact match.
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Because coloured resin is more difficult to produce, companies might charge you anywhere from $20-$70 (Php900-Php3100) to your doll in a darker colour, IF they offer other colours.

Keep in mind, not all companies offer darker colours and even less of them offer unusual/fantasy skin colours.

WHERE ELSE CAN I LOOK FOR DOLLS?

Besides looking through the BJD tag on tumblr or on instagram to see a variety of dolls, you can go to these news sites to see dolls from various companies as they get released:
Last edited by Alek on Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:36 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Local Newbie's Guide to getting your first BJD

PostThu Feb 05, 2015 11:39 am

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Once you’re set to buy your doll, you have the option to either buy the doll second-hand or buy it new.

Buying Second-hand means the doll would have had owner before you. There are many reasons to buy secondhand instead of new:

  • The sculpt might have already been discontinued, limited or the company making them might have since closed their operation.
  • Buying the doll second hand might be cheaper.
  • The Doll may come with additional apparel and accessories from their last owner.

Occasionally, there are a couple or so dolls on the ManikaManila market sub-forum to save you from shipping or customs. However, since dolls are only seldom sold on the MM market places, you can also check Buy-and-Sell BJD groups on FB or Flickr, or on the Den of Angels market.

Before buying anything second hand, always look for a feedback thread from the seller or any indicator of their trustworthiness.

However, Buying New is what most people opt for. Since most BJD companies work on a pre-order basis, you will first need to finish paying for the doll before they make it.

Here some things to remember when buying BJDs new.
  • Unless they have a doll in-stock, the company will only make the doll after receiving the complete payment.
  • Production time usually takes 2-6 weeks on average, but can take much longer if the company is behind on orders. They will usually indicate this, either on their site or tell you upon order.
  • Unless stated in the sales listing, you will be getting the doll blank. This means that it will not come with painted (no faceup), nor will it have clothes, shoes eyes or wigs.
  • Most stores sell clothes, eyes, wigs and other BJD items separately on their site. This is one way of making sure what you buy will fit your doll.

Most doll companies already have an eCommerce store in their site in which makes placing an order much easier. If there is no store, it never hurts to contact the company either through their Q&A board or via email.

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, dolls come in a variety of sizes, so regardless of how you get your first doll, you should always know the specifications and measurement of the doll you pan to buy. At the very least, learn about the height, the circumference of it’s head, the size of eyes it takes, and the length of it’s foot.

PAYMENT METHODS

Most doll companies payment method of choice for overseas orders are using PayPal. Depending on the company, they may also accept Western Union payments, or bank transfers.

If you do not yet have a PayPal account, opening one is easy. You will just need one of the following:
  • A Credit Card. You will need an online account that allows you to access your transactions, otherwise you will have to wait for your monthly statement.
  • A Debit Card specifically for using PayPal. Such as UnionBank’s Eon Card which costs Php350 a year to maintain, or BPI’s More Fun Prepaid Card which is explicitly for paying and cannot be used to withdraw money.
  • POSSIBLY, a Debit Card that has the Visa or Mastercard logo. But just like with the Credit Card, you will need an online account that allows you to access your transactions, otherwise you will have to wait for your monthly statement. This should work some cards, in theory, but there still might be other restrictions placed by your bank.

When using PayPal to pay, always select that you are ‘Buying Goods and Services’ rather than ‘Personal Payments’. If you select Personal Payments, you will not be able to get PayPal’s help getting your money back on the off chance something goes wrong.

Should you use Western Union, be mindful of Western Union’s conversion rate, as well as the additional fee they will charge you for the money transfer. Western Union also takes a little more time to process money, so it is not an instant payment like with PayPal.

Companies will usually list down the payment methods they accept somewhere on their site, and give you the option to select your payment method at the check-out. If not, you can always leave a message on their Q&A board for their details or send them an email.

What if the shop doesn't have an official site?

If you cannot find an official site of a company you want to buy from but you find them listed on a dealer’s website, you can just order from the dealer.

One just has to do make sure to do a background check on the dealer’s legitimacy and learn about their reputation. There are websites selling fakes, and while they may look similar to dealers sites, you can usually tell when all their dolls from different companies are priced almost identically.

Buying from a Dealer also has some pros and cons:
  • Depending on where they are located, it might take double the shipping time for your doll to get to you. Since there are no dealers in the Philippines, you will have to buy from Dealers in other countries. Instead of shipping your order directly to you, they will have to be shipped to the dealer first, because it is their responsibility to deliver it to you.
  • With the exception of some dolls which dealers have in-stock. You must be careful to check if the in-stock doll has been used for display prior or has not been left out, as that might have aged (yellowed) the resin.

If the company only has a taobao shop, you possibly have these alternatives:
  1. Try contacting the company and asking them if they can ship internationally. Some companies and artists on taobao are already accustomed to shipping internationally, and can work something out for you. If this is unavailable, you will have to:
  2. Use a shopping service. Since most taobao shops only ship within china, there are many shopping services who can help you out. For a fee of around 8-15% of your items worth. They buy items on your behalf, have the doll shipped to them in China, and ship you the package when they receive it.

What if I do not have the complete amount right now but that doll is going to be discontinued or out of stock?

Fortunately, or unfortunately for you, many many companies and dealers have Layaway or Installment plans. What this means is that you can pay off your doll a fraction of the amount at a time.

There are a few things to keep in mind of when going for a layaway:

  • Not every company offers layaways, and layaways might be prohibited for certain items. You can check a companies FAQ, Notices or Message board on the availability of layaways, but when in doubt, always ask. Companies will readily tell you about their layaway terms, if they have any.
  • Layaway plans vary from company to company. The common time frame seems to be 2-3 months, and the usual initial deposit is somewhere around $150 or 50% of the item. Some companies will be more flexible, and some companies will be less so.
  • Most layaways have a deposit amount which can no longer be refunded if you change your mind. So read the terms carefully and also try to be sure you can make payments. If you think you need a bit more time, or will be off-schedule, the best would be to let the company know as a lot of them are happy to work something out with you.
  • Most companies will not start production of your doll until you've paid it off. So always be prepared to wait. There's always the chance of getting lucky and not having to wait as long, but always expect the worst when it comes to wait times.

Regardless of how you buy your first doll, it always pays to double check the reputability of whoever is selling you the doll. You also need to make sure you read through the terms and charges of everything you transact with.
Last edited by Alek on Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: The Local Newbie's Guide to getting your first BJD

PostThu Feb 05, 2015 11:39 am

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The last leg of your quest to buy your first doll is sometimes the most frustrating. All that’s left is for your doll to ship and and pass through customs.

SHIPPING METHOD

While often times, you do not really get much choice in the kind of shipping you can avail of to get your doll, these are the main differences between the different methods.

Surface Mail/Air Mail
  • This is basically your regular post. Although each country calls their post by different names, what is being described here is just the method of using your country’s postal service for sending packages.
  • Average time is takes a package to arrive is 2-6 weeks.
  • The absolute cheapest way to ship items out.
  • There is usually little to no tracking for packages sent this way.
  • Will be sent to the post office of your city.
  • May be taxed, depending on how valuable the customs official assigned to your post office sees it. Some cities post offices are very lenient, while others charge everyone.
  • Will be asked to pay the handling fee of Php100.

EMS
  • While EMS is still government-run, EMS is a more expensive yet secure way to send and receive packages. Most companies will go with EMS by default, and some only make use of EMS because it is the most cost-efficient for them.
  • Average time is takes a package to arrive is 1-3 weeks.
  • While more expensive than Air or Surface Mail, it is still cheap in comparison to private courier services.
  • EMS can be tracked and updates their tracking fairly well.
  • If you are within Metro Manila, you will most likely be sent a card telling you to claim your package at the Central Mail Exchange Center along Domestic Road in Pasay. For Provincial Addresses, packages are sent to your local post office where you may either be taxed or not.*
  • If you go to CMEC, you will definitely be taxed for your package.
  • You will still be asked to pay the handling fee of Php100 on top of the customs fee.
  • Although some people have been lucky enough to experience packages getting delivered straight to their addresses wherein they do not have to pay customs fees, no one quite knows how exactly EMS decides who to deliver to and who to make pay.

Private Couriers
  • Private Couriers refer to the likes of DHL, FedEx, UPS and other companies who provide courier services.
  • A package can arrive anywhere from overnight to two weeks, depending on what service you bought. Needless to say, the quicker the more expensive.
  • Is generally the most expensive means of shipping.
  • Detailed tracking is available and updated live.
  • Will deliver to your address.
  • Will charge you customs fees.


CUSTOMS

Although there have been may complaints about customs and I myself have experienced absolutely shocking fees, this is what you need to do to prepare for facing customs.

You can find the technical breakdown of Customs Fees on the BIR website, but because it’s not as simple as it looks, I’ve compared 5 different receipts I’ve accumulated in the last year. After doing the math, given the current fixed charges, you must be prepared to pay around 25% of the Declared Value.

Because they can only go by the Declared Value, you should take the following steps to minimize the ransom you have to pay for your package:

  • Make sure the company declares it for a much smaller amount. Never include receipts or other indicators of the item’s actual price.
  • Most companies are fine with under-declaring the item and ask you specifically what amount you would like to put. I generally have it from $25-49, which means I pay around Php1000 in customs fees.
  • Have a printed copy of the paypal transaction. You must make sure this matches the amount the package was declared for.

Do not let them talk you into giving away the 'true price' (you have to insist that is actually what you paid for). And also check that the declared value they used to compute for taxes is the same as what’s on your package and PayPal transaction.

Luckily, as of late, customs has been doing well enough to stick to the formula, but that doesn't mean they cannot find other ways to get that Declared Value raised. Be prepared and do not give them the opportunity to find a way to make you pay more.

But after all of that is said and done, our trials should be over!

You should have finally reached the end of your quest and rescued your package, successfully bringing your doll home!

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Re: A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostTue Feb 10, 2015 2:47 pm

This is very good Information!! :ok:

Payment Method: Suggestions.

There are more companies and dealers like us also offer Layaway Plan.

Layaway Plan is paying installment basis. Usually consumer grab it not because they cannot pay cash but it is a good and practical reasons. Usually by ordering dolls it takes a months, So why paying cash if your items will arrive after a months.

Why not take advantage Layaway Plan especially no interest additional.
:love:Website: http://dolkus.com/index.php :love:

DOLKS no. 1 Total Online Shop in Japan and Korea. Shop w/ us now!!
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Alek

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Re: A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostTue Feb 10, 2015 2:56 pm

RAmBOL wrote:This is very good Information!! :ok:

Payment Method: Suggestions.

There are more companies and dealers like us also offer Layaway Plan.

Layaway Plan is paying installment basis. Usually consumer grab it not because they cannot pay cash but it is a good and practical reasons. Usually by ordering dolls it takes a months, So why paying cash if your items will arrive after a months.

Why not take advantage Layaway Plan especially no interest additional.


Layaways totally slipped my mind! Thanks for the suggestion @RAmBOL :) I'll add a section for it later. :)
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Re: A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostSat Feb 14, 2015 6:13 pm

great post, alek! :)

by the way, Union Bank EON annual fee is 350php. =)
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Re: A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostThu Feb 19, 2015 8:12 am

P350 na ba? Oops. Edited! :D

Included a section on Layaways as well.
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Re: A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostSat Mar 14, 2015 3:20 pm

How about in provincial areas? Does anyone have experience in receiving their dolls in provinces? I'm scared I'll have to go over to the customs office to claim my package...
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Re: A Newbie's Guide to BJD; Choosing, Buying & Shipping!

PostSat Mar 14, 2015 7:17 pm

vanillamorning wrote:How about in provincial areas? Does anyone have experience in receiving their dolls in provinces? I'm scared I'll have to go over to the customs office to claim my package...


You'll have to ask others, but like I said for EMS, they will likely be sent to your local post office. You won't have to go all the way to CMEC, don't worry. But it'll be up to your local post office if they make you go to their office or just deliver it to you, and whether you will have to pay taxes.

Provincial addresses often fair much better than Metro Manila when it comes to shipping.
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